Thursday, April 12, 2007

Service for fools...

It might have escaped you that recently, customer service in the Greatest Britain has been in decline. I know it is hard to believe but it is true, just ask Edwina Currie if you don’t believe me or go into any store in any part of the country and you will be met by two kinds of persons working there.

The smiling little spiv who will do anything to ensure that you yourself will have to find the article you are looking for, find out the price and if he could, have you to put the money in the till without him doing “sweet jesus”. He will happily take your money for a substandard service and most likely for a substandard product. His goal is to get through the day with having done as little work as possible but charging the utmost for it.

The second person you are likely to meet is Sharon and Tracy. The airheads who stands filing their nails, chatting on the mobile, talking to other members of staff whilst customers are rampaging through the store trying to find the items they are looking for, finding out the price as price labels are non existent, and having the birdbrains pointing to you and saying “its over there love, somewhere”, “well if you know where it is why don’t you come and show me?” “Cant at the moment I am serving on the till”, is the most likely reply…

Why has this country become like this? Is it because we introduced the minimum wage? Does that mean that people working in retail and service who are paid the minimum wage should only do the minimum?

I am not suggesting that we go the American way, where everyone is smiling telling you “to have nice day now!”, or when you enter a shop they smile from ear to ear asking you “how are you today?” “Mind your own bloody business”, should be the polite answer, but being brought up to be a nice person you tell them you are fine. Well I suggest that next time you tell them that your wife has left you for another woman, your kids are bleeding you dry, your boss is an idiot and at the moment you are in hiding from the bank, as you are overdrawn on your account…that would wipe the smile of their faces…on they other hand they would probably just serve you and when you leave they would say “Don’t forget to have a nice day now”…

No I am asking for the simplest possible service, spot what is going on in your store, if you see someone helplessly wandering about, go and ask them if you can help them. Be polite, learn English so you can communicate with the customers, words like please and thank you comes to mind…

We visit Sweden regularly and without fail when Mrs E enters a store someone will come up and ask, Kan jag hjälpa till med något?”, Mrs E answers that she is English and the person switch over to their rusty but sufficient school English and tries their best. I am not sure if it is that Swedish people do not trust us, when we go into their establishment, perhaps they think we are there to steal something? In any case the experience is wonderful and so much more civilised.

Most of the high street stores in the Greatest Britain spend so much on advertising, enticing us into their stores. I cannot sit at home and watch commercial television without being told 15 times about Snow Patrols new single is now out!! Then when I get to the store I am met by ignorance and stupidity…what should be a decent experience end up being a nightmare. “Sorry we are out of stock” “OK when do you get new ones in?” “I don’t know do I?” is the answer. “Can I speak to the manager and ask him?” “No…he is on his break isn’t he?”…by now you want to take the nearest CD and show it down their neck…but you resists…just

Then when I get home and watch the news I am being told that spending on the high street is down and internet spending is up…duh…did they need a group of analysts to work that one out?

I suggest that they spend less on advertising and more on training their staff, if need be, pay them per smile and pleasantries…not the guy in the warehouse though as he is probably on drugs and are smiling all the time…

Finally the pub…it cannot get more British than that…a pub selling ale and beers…a place where people come in to relax, have a drink, chat with friends, meet to discuss important issues and even sealing that deal they just discussed…what has happen there?

As you enter the pub, Mr Bartender, not a large, wise, worldly man, as it used to be, who told you anecdotes about previous customers, who would tell how when he travelled though India and the Far East he would live on beer and fermented eggs and would make your visit to his pub more memorable than when your wife gave birth to your firstborn…no not anymore…today’s bartender is more likely to be some spotty kid who’s height of travel was coming to work on the 74 bus, once he went to Paris with the school but cannot remember what he saw. He did not get the part when the boss told him to greet the customer when they arrive to the pub…no no no…now you are greeted by Snow Partol’s latest single blaring out from the speakers so loud that you cannot even hear yourself think….

He will stand there talking to his mate, whilst you are standing at the other end of the bar. You know that he saw you but is still talking some nonsense to his friend, whilst you are making origami out of the soaked beer mats. He finally, after you had done more coughs than Major Ingram had in “Who wants to be a millionaire?”, comes over and without a smile says…yeah…not Good afternoon, what can I get you? Just a short yeah…you give him your order, ask to see the food menu which is far too much for his brain to compute. The wine is warm because he did not know that he was going to have customers ordering Rose wine on a hot day, and he points towards a chalk board, as he has been told that it is politically incorrect to say black board for the food. You take your drinks sit down ask for a cloth to clean the table and remove the 500 cigarette butts left from the previous nights quiz. As he approaches you he brings his soaked cloth passing the black board and wipes out half of the items on the menu, leaving only sandwiches and soup of the day. When you ask him why the food is not available he says, “We did not have all the deliveries this morning, did we?”

Twelve packets of crisps later you leave, swearing never to return, but then a week later you are back again, in the hope that there has been some changes, which of course there hasn’t…so who is the fool, them or us?

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